The Matildas are finalising their lineup, tactical plans, and playing philosophies just six months before the 2023 Women's World Cup, when they will face the Republic of Ireland, Canada, and Nigeria in the group stage on July 20. They crushed Czechia 4-0 at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Thursday night due to a brace from Hayley Raso, goals from Sam Kerr and record-breaking captain Clare Polkinghorne, and their first stop of this "dress rehearsal." Although the Czechs missed three golden opportunities in the first half, Australia's anxieties were calmed by Raso's two goals early in the second half. The team of Tony Gustavsson corrected their defensive flaws.In the second half, Raso was joined on the scoresheet by Sam Kerr, Clare Polkinghorne, who in her 152nd game earned the most caps for the Matildas ever. In her milestone game, Polkinghorne displayed assurance at the back, and the Matildas got off to a strong start with Kerr and Raso both sizing up the Czech defence. Yet just as Australia started to pose a threat, Czechia erupted. Australia may have fallen behind 3-0 if it weren't for goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who was making her first start for the Matildas in over a year.Gustavasson has said that this competition is a "dress rehearsal" for the World Cup, but his team appeared exposed when the Czech Republic briefly had the upper hand.
Fortunately goodness for the Swede, his team was able to withstand the storm and then, shortly after halftime, Raso snatched the lead. In the 48th minute, Raso was set up by Kerr in space on the right side of the box, and Raso finished. The ball bounded past Olivie Lukasova, the goalie for the Czech Republic, and into the goal. Australia was shocked into action by Raso's hit, and they attacked with purpose. Kerr was particularly frightening as she sent the Czech defence running for cover. They received their reward in the form of a Stephen Curry corner, and they didn't blow the chance.Clare Hunt, a defender for Western Sydney, headed Catley's in-swinger back into the goalmouth, where Raso was able to poke home her second of the game on her senior debut. The Matildas persisted in their attack even after Gustavsson made three substitutions, and Kerr scored in the 70th minute following some spirited play from substitute Alex Chidiac. With fewer than 10 minutes remaining, Polkinghorne completed her historic evening by scoring off a deflection from a corner. In a match that will likely determine the tournament's victor, Australia will take against Spain, the world's seventh-ranked team, in Parramatta on Sunday. Spain defeated Jamaica earlier on Thursday. See how the game developed in our liveblog below.
Matildas Defeat Czechia 4 - 0 In First Cup Of Nations Game, Thanks To Hayley Raso Brace
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